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Articles Posted in domestic assault and battery

When facing an assault and battery charge in Massachusetts a defendant may face the more severe charge of assault and battery causing serious bodily injury if the evidence shows the assault caused a serious bodily injury. This turns the assault and battery from a misdemeanor to a felony and carries significantly harsher punishment. The recent case of Commonwealth v. Scott was decided by the Supreme Judicial Court and faced the issue of what injuries are sufficient to be a serious bodily injury under G. L. c. 265 §13A(b).

Commonwealth v. Scott involved a defendant who went to his ex-girlfriend’s home to confront her. Defendant became violent during the time in the victim’s home. Defendant punched the victim in the face, stomach, threatened her with a knife and beat her with a can of soda. The victim suffered several injuries, the worst being a lacerated liver.

The defendant was convicted of several crimes like kidnapping and assault and battery, but because of the lacerated liver defendant was also convicted of assault and battery causing serious bodily injury. To constitute a serious bodily injury, the injury had to result in either (1) a permanent disfigurement; (2) loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb or organ or; (3) a substantial risk of death. The only question on this appeal was if there was enough evidence to show the injury caused an impairment of an organ. The court held that there was no sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that there was impairment.

A Massachusetts woman has been charged with two counts of felony stalking of the former general manager of the Boston Red Sox, now president of the Chicago Cubs.

Media reports indicate the Canton woman was arrested a few blocks from Theo Epstein’s home, where she told police she was seeking him out to invite him to church. In and of itself that wouldn’t be a crime, but the woman had reportedly been warned about stalking his home.

Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers know that despite the headlines often made in cases of celebrity or high-profile stalking incidents, which often involve an element of mental illness, the majority of stalking allegations stem from a break-up or divorce.

In many cases, it can be a misunderstanding or one person just has a hard time letting go.

And the fact of the matter is, it’s fairly common. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the following:

1. In the U.S., 14 out of every 1,000 people reported being victims of stalking;
2. For people who were divorced or separated, the rate of stalking was the highest – 34 out of every 1,000;
3. About 1 in 4 alleged stalking victims reported being the target of some form of cyberstalking, such as e-mail (more than 80 percent) or instant messaging (35 percent);

The penalties for a stalking conviction under Massachusetts law are serious.

Massachusetts law, specifically Part IV, Title I, Chapter 265, Section 43, addresses stalking and its punishments. This statute defines stalking as any willful and malicious engagement in a pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time that is directed at one person that either “seriously alarms” or “annoys” that person AND would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress. The law also similarly encompasses threats that are intended to make the person fear either imminent physical injury or death.

This is a felony, and if convicted, a person can serve up to five years in prison and pay up to a $1,000 fine.

A lot of times when we think of stalking, collectively we’re picturing someone physically following another person around with binoculars. But of course, that’s an antiquated notion (although it would still count) and the law now addresses various forms of electronic communication too.

For example, the conduct that would be considered stalking under the law includes any actions carried out or threats made by mail, phone, e-mail, faxes, instant messages or any other electronic or digital communication.

So for example, if your girlfriend breaks up with you and you send her a series of Facebook messages meant to intimidate her or threaten her – even after you’ve been warned to stop – you can be charged with stalking, even if you never go near her.

It’s this misunderstanding about stalking laws that can sometimes get people in trouble.
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A Brockton women was recently jailed after an argument with her sister reportedly led to one slashing the other with a kitchen knife.

Our Massachusetts domestic violence defense lawyers can often help a defendant facing charges of assaulting a family member. Scant evidence can lead to an arrest — but whether you are convicted is another matter entirely.

While we typically think of domestic violence situations in terms of spouse-on-spouse, under Massachusetts General Law 209A, it can involve any family member or household member, and it includes violence against someone you may be dating or have dated.

Family or household member means:

1. Anyone to whom you are or were married;
2. Anyone with whom you are living in the same residence;
3. Anyone with whom you are related by blood or marriage;
4. Anyone with whom you have a child, regardless of whether you were ever married or in a long-term relationship with.

In some cases, an arrest will be made on the spot, while in others, officers will take more time to investigate and then return with a warrant to make an arrest. Regardless of the method, the end penalties are equally serious.

In this case, the sister who was slashed reportedly suffered minor injuries. No further details were given about the incident, as it is currently under investigation.

Domestic violence convictions are unique from other assault convictions because there is the potential to greatly disrupt your life, than a simple assault conviction. A conviction for domestic violence can impact not only your personal relationships, but potentially your professional relationships as well.

The alleged victim can also request an abuse protection order against you, which could prohibit you from all contact and even from being in certain places at certain times where it is likely the alleged victim might be. Violation of this order is considered an additional criminal offense.

With regard to your professional life, public employees are at particular are at risk. State employees, for example, are under a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual assault and domestic violence. Executive Order 491, signed back in 2009, establishes that state employees can face disciplinary action from their employer if convicted of a domestic violence offense. This can range from an oral warning or reprimand to a suspension or even termination. This applies regardless of whether the alleged incident happened at work.

What’s more, the executive order allows that the employer can use a prior domestic violence conviction from within the last five years when deciding whether or not to hire a candidate. That’s a strike that many would-be employees can’t afford in this current economic climate.

Although the executive order only involves government employees, many companies have similar policies.

It’s not uncommon for disputes to arise among family members or those living in the same household. When police only have a limited amount of information to go on, they often get it wrong as to who was the aggressor or the exact facts of the case.

Simply pleading guilty to get it over with is not a smart move, and won’t help you put an unpleasant situation behind you any faster.
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Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys have been closely watching the defense strategy in a Florida murder trial, in which a husband is accused of slaying his 33-year-old wife.

In cases requiring a Boston criminal defense, attorneys analyze all angles of a case. Some are glaring situations of self-defense. Others are more nuanced.

In the case of a Florida real estate developer accused of murder, it seems unlikely that he even committed the crime at all.

Here’s what we know about the unfolding case, as it’s been reported by ABC News:

A young mother is found dead on the bathroom floor of her south Florida home. It was November 2007. It was her husband who found her, and subsequently made a frantic phone call to 911.

Prosecutors are contending that the husband killed his wife by strangulation just moments before he made that call.

And it would seem unlikely that a seemingly healthy, 33-year-old woman would die suddenly of a medical condition.

However, the defense has been seemingly effective in creating a shadow of doubt. In their argument, the wife did in fact die of congestive heart failure. The wounds and abrasions found on her body, they said, were likely the result of her falling to the floor in the midst of a heart attack.

Additional wounds, they contended, could be explained by the aggressive treatment that followed shortly after by paramedics and those working to save her life. Chest compressions and other life-saving methods have been known to cause extensive bruising and even broken ribs and other maladies.

What’s more, while the doctor who conducted the autopsy did not render a cause of death (it was still pending at the time of the trial), the chief medical examiner – who was not even present for the autopsy – declared her death a homicide.

And a woman intended to be a key witness for the prosecution – a close friend of the deceased woman – testified instead about how deeply in love the pair were, and how happy her friend was with her husband. That ended up backing claims by defense attorneys that the couple had no major problems that would have supported a motive for murder.

A few months before her death, the woman had reportedly undergone surgery for breast augmentation. At that time, surgeons and anesthesiologists testified that they were unaware that the patient had any heart condition. However, defense attorneys rightly pointed out that sometimes patients lie on medical forms, particularly for cosmetic surgery, because they don’t want anything to stop them from getting the procedure. It’s likely too that the woman didn’t know about a possible heart condition. Just because there was no indication of it during surgery doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

This case is interesting because it illustrates how an experienced defense attorney can attack a prosecution’s theory from nearly every angle. No matter how bleak a case may look on day of arrest, things may look much different in the courtroom. Another great reason why it’s important to exercise your right to remain silent and consult with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side as your case moves through the system is critical to obtaining the best possible outcome. What may look bleak at the outset may not be bleak at all. Another great example of why it’s best to exercise your right to remain Continue Reading ›

Abington assault and battery charges have been filed against a 37-year-old police officer who allegedly attacked his 9-year-old twin daughters.

Abington domestic violence defense lawyers know that such an allegation can have implications not only for the officer’s criminal record, but also his job and child custody arrangements.

Domestic battery cases in Massachusetts often stem from very personal matters. It’s not uncommon for one angered spouse to exaggerate or flat-out lie out of spite about what actually happened.

A Weston man was recently arrested and charged after allegedly violating a Massachusetts restraining order his wife had gotten against him, The MetroWest Daily News is reporting.

Facing a restraining order in Westborough can be an embarrassing thing and typically derives from some type of Massachusetts domestic violence situation.

Westborough criminal defense lawyers recognize that these matters are private, yet can take a public turn once the issues get into the court system.

In this case, a 29-year-old man now faces criminal charges after he allegedly violated the restraining order and then forced a police cruiser off the road, The MetroWest Daily News reports.

According to the newspaper, the couple has had various domestic violence issues recently. The wife was arrested on Christmas Eve after she allegedly crashed a party at the man’s Aspen Road home, threw a chair through a widow and assaulted someone. The wife, who previously had a restraining order against her husband, renewed it recently and the man showed up at her house and entered, police said, in violation of the order.

The wife told him to leave and as he did, he reportedly drove down the center of a road without his headlights, which caused a police officer to drive off the road. The man was arrested at his home and charged with a restraining order violation, driving to endanger, speeding, driving without headlights and failing to keep right.

Prosecutors have asked that the man’s bail be revoked in a previous case where he is accused of assaulting his children. The man is being held on the probation violation, but no decision was made by a Framingham District Court judge on the prosecution request.

According to the Massachusetts Criminal Model Jury Instructions, in order to be convicted of violating an abuse prevention order (a 209A violation), the prosecution must show four things:

  • That a court had issued an order that required the person not abuse, not contact, stay away from, stay away from a household or workplace of another
  • That the order was in effect at the time of the alleged violation
  • That the defendant knew the terms of the order
  • That the defendant violated the order

These are very specific things the prosecution must prove beyond all reasonable doubt in order to ensure a person is convicted of this charge. And there are specific definitions in the law for what “abuse” and “contact” actually mean. Not every case is black and white and therefore an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer must be brought it to study the facts of the case and provide a sound defense.

These cases can tear apart families and friends as well as lead to significant criminal charges. They shouldn’t be taken lightly, but rather should be defended aggressively.
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A Franklin man has been charged with trying to kill his girlfriend in a Marlborough domestic violence incident, The MetroWest Daily News recently reported.

Domestic violence charges in Marlborough require an experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney be immediately consulted to sort out the real facts.

In this case, Richard Waters, 26, was arraigned Wednesday in Marlborough District Court on 14 charges: attempted murder, assault with intent to intimidate, assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless endangerment of a child, car theft, threatening to commit a crime, vandalizing property, driving with a suspended license, failing to stop for police, negligent driving, using a car without authority, a marked lanes violation and speeding, police said.

According to police, the couple and their child spent the day together at Hopkinton State Park one day in early July. When they got home, the couple allegedly got into a fight, with Waters allegedly choking the woman three times, punching a hole in the wall and making several threats.

After the alleged outburst, he took her car keys and left, leading police on a high-speed chase. He was driving 70 mph in a 30 mph zone at times; the chase lasted until he drove off the road and ran into the woods. After officers searched the area using a police dog, they called off the search. An arrest warrant was issued and he was later detained.

The newspaper later reported that he was being held without bond after a dangerousness hearing. Prosecutors allege the man is a member of the Framingham street gang the Kendall Street Thugs.

In domestic violence cases, law enforcement officers typically have very little evidence on which to bring charges. But because of the stigma attached to these events, they are sometimes worried that not making an arrest could lead to further violence.

So, sometimes, they listen to the person who claims to be the victim and make an arrest with little evidence. With little corroborating evidence, a person is sometimes carted off to jail, has their mug shot published by the media and suffers other consequences.

Defense to domestic violence-related charges that an aggressive Massachusetts Domestic Violence Attorney will pursue, include:

Self defense. In this type of defense, an attorney can seek to suggest the alleged victim in fact perpetrated the violence. It’s possible to show they are the aggressor.

Fabrication by the victim. In cases of divorce, a break-up, or other situations, alleged victims will lie to police as a form of revenge or pay back.
Ulterior motivation. Sometimes, alleged victims believe that a partner picking up an arrest record or conviction can benefit them financially or otherwise and will stretch the truth.
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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals decided a significant case for Massachusetts Domestic Assault and Battery Lawyers. In Commonwealth v. Belmer, decided October 14, 2010, the Massachusetts Appeals Court permitted an affidavit in support of a 209A restraining order to be used as substantive evidence. This ruling was critical because the victim originally claimed that the defendant, her husband, struck her 15 year old son, but recanted the testimony at trial. Her son was brought to the Boston Emergency Center where he was given stitches for his lip.

The mother wrote in her 209A, restraining order affidavit, that her son intervened when he heard her arguing with the defendant. According to the 209 affidavit, the defendant started a fight with the 15 year old boy. In addition to signing an affidavit, the mother testified as to what occurred between her son and husband at the 209A hearing.

At trial, the judge allowed the prosecutor to question the child’s mother regarding her 209A affidavit and testimony at the 209A hearing. At trial, the mother recanted her testimony claiming that the fight was purely verbal and that the defendant was talking with his hands and accidentally struck her son with his elbow. The mother claimed that her trial testimony differed from her affidavit because she was angry at the time she made the affidavit, about the fact of the defendant’s infidelity and that her son was injured.

The Commonwealth also admitted the medical records of the child at the Domestic Assault and Battery trial. The EMT records stated that the victim reported being struck. Additional medical records also recounted that the victim stated that his father struck him in the face with a closed fist.

The Commonwealth, relying on the case of Commonwealth v. Daye, 393 Mass. 55 (1984) argued that the prior inconsistent statements of the victim should come into evidence as substantive evidence. Under Daye, a prior inconsistent statement can be used as evidence of the criminal offense charged when the following criteria are met: First, the maker of the statement must be available for cross examination, the maker of the statement must have a memory of the prior statement and that statement must be the maker’s own words rather than a response to a questions, like a yes or no answer or other leading question. The Daye court further noted that the prior inconsistent statement cannot be the sole basis for the conviction but must be corroborated by some other evidence.

It appears that significant to the court’s decision in Belmer finding that the prior inconsistent statement was corroborated was the fact that the medical records were admitted into evidence without objection. Generally, medical records as to how an event, such as a domestic assault and battery would be inadmissible without the live testimony of the maker of the statement. It appears that the victim of the assault and battery never testified; accordingly, as a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, it appears as though the medical records should have been excluded from evidence as inadmissible hearsay. Had these records been excluded, it is difficult to see how the court would have found the corroboration rule satisfied.

The Belmer case is a significant case for defending domestic assaults in Massachusetts as it shows how the Commonwealth can proceed to trial even with a hostile witness. Accordingly, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court and to fight your case at trial.
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